Job Search Preparation: Networking

shutterstock_89779624Networking is a key component to preparing for your job search. If you’ve ever heard it said that it’s not what you know but who, then you’ve heard a reference to networking. Although you may know about the importance of networking, you might not know where to begin, or how to go about it. Here are some networking tips for your job search preparation.

Begin with the Familiar

Sources say that it’s best to begin with those who you know, and who are fairly close to you. That takes a great deal of pressure off, and helps you begin your networking on familiar ground. Also, close acquaintances and friends can be honest with you about your approach.

Informational Interviews

Networking is intended to be a learning experience. Conducting informational interviews is one way to learn a great deal without pressuring the other person. When you do an informational interview, you are just speaking with someone who is successful in a field that you would like to enter. If you want a career in restaurant management, for instance, you can conduct informational interviews with restaurant managers to get their take on things. Make it clear that you are not searching for a job at that time; you are just gathering information.

In this kind of interchange, you will be asking the questions for the most part. As you meet with the professional in your chosen field, bring along a notebook and take notes on what the person tells you. And him or her questions about hours, work level, first steps he or she took to get started, and other pertinent questions.

Make Them Comfortable

It’s important to make the networking partner feel at ease and comfortable. Keep the talk at a casual, friendly chat level, as if you are just having lunch with a friend (which you are!).

Be Memorable

…in a good way. The point to successful networking is to have professionals remember your name and have your contact information handy if they hear of a position or job in the field, or if they want to take on an apprentice or a trainee. So make sure you leave them with your phone number, email, and website address (because you will have a website – see below).

An Online Presence

To network in today’s world, you need an online presence. It’s a good idea to join social networking sites and to set up a blog or website. This makes you accessible to anyone who might want to look into what you do a bit further. It’s an easy reference to tell people your site’s address, too.

Have You Experienced the New Interviews?

It’s important for you to keep up with the various job titles possibly being used by the companies you are targeting. The titles Recruiting Manager and Recruiter are now being referred to as Talent Acquisition Manager or the Talent Acquisition Team. There is also a new type of interview being conducted in addition to the behavioral based interviews. The new style of interview is a performance based interview. The person conducting the interview is trying to predict future performance based on your past performance. There are also attempting to identify accomplishments and the impact of your accomplishments on past employers.

In every conversation you need to stress your accomplishments and show how you were better, faster, more thorough, saved more money and anything else that made you stand out from other people who had your job.

People are not going to take time to figure out why they should hire you. Your cover letter, resume, interview, track record and follow up process should show hiring authorities why you are the best person for their opportunity.

Did You Know that when you are looking for a job, you are involved in a sales process? You are selling your skills and ability to your next possible employer. Networking is one of the most effective ways to find your next job.

6 Reasons to Fear Video Interviews

Charlie Sheen in March 2009

Image via Wikipedia

Today I read about a company that provided a candidate video interview service.  For a fee companies sign up to have a third party ask prospective employees to answer one question on video.  The candidate gets one shot to answer the question and get an interview.  There is no other initial screening.   Sounds like it might be efficient.  That’s great if your goal is to churn as many applicants through the process as possible.  Not so great if you are trying to hire top talent.

There is a place, however, for video in your attraction, selection, and hiring process. In our executive search practice we try to use video interviews with as many candidates as possible.  This gives us a much better sense of who we are talking to.  It also goes miles in building a personal relationship with that person.  We have also started to encourage more of our clients to hire with video interviews.  Video doesn’t take the place of an in-person meeting.  Online interviews do, however, save money. They also position the company as having an innovative and technology centered culture.  Something the Millennial generation is actively seeking.

But there are reasons to fear video interviewing.  Below are 6 reasons to fear video interviewing that I have actually heard people say…

1) “I don’t know how to use the equipment.”  – Then learn.  The job video interview is probably not going away and this technique is growing.  Something as simple as Skype works great and allows you to share video clips of interviews with others in the hiring process.

2) “It’s just a phone call with a picture, isn’t it?” – If you believe this then you should fear video interviews. More than just a phone call with a picture, video interviewing is like an audition.  You are auditioning the candidate and the candidate is auditioning you.  Be prepared for the call and practice looking at the camera when you are speaking, not the screen.

3) “I don’t have a make-up artist.” – Get over yourself.  Office lighting is usually terrible and no one looks like a movie star on a webcam.  Just watch one of the recent Charlie Sheen videos and you’ll see what I mean.

4) “I’ll just do it at home in my kitchen .” – Maybe you won’t do it from your kitchen, but what about that awful wall in your office behind you?  Candidates don’t want to talk with a disheveled person in a cluttered space.  If your background is not orderly and pleasant, either change the angle of your camera or go do it in the conference room.

5) “Where will I get an announcer voice?” – If you are going to change the tone, cadence, and resonance of your voice to sound like a monster truck pull advertisement, then be fearful of video interviews.  You don’t need a TV voice, just be yourself.

6) “They won’t work here if they know what I look like.” – Seriously? Will you be wearing a disguise when you meet them in person?

There really is nothing to fear when recruiting with video interviews.  Employers will find this to be an effective and efficient way to quickly meet prospective candidates.  Just take the time to prepare, know the intent of the video interview, and start doing your interview videos today.